The Chicago Bulls’ offseason has been underway for a few weeks after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks. Since the end of their season, rumors have circulated that the Team All-Star will lose Zach LaVine by free hand.
The Bulls can offer LaVine the most money in free hands with $212.3 million. Meanwhile, other teams can offer him a four-year deal worth up to $157 million. However, LaVine could ask the Bulls to agree to a sign and a trade so he still gets the maximum contract.
The LaVine name has surfaced in rumors over the past few weeks, with several teams being named as possible landing spots for the All-Star. The Spurs, Lakers, Blazers, Mavericks and Hawks have all been named as teams that could potentially give LaVine a free hand.
However, a league source recently told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the Bulls are still favorites to sign LaVine.
“Business as usual,” said an Eastern Conference executive. “The cops can give him more money. You can give him a chance to go to the playoffs every year. If he’s not the #1 option, he’s 1A, and that will be the case in almost every place he goes if he’s serious about going. Portland is a possibility for him and if he leaves, that would be the only place it would make sense. But would he shoot more there than Damian Lillard? Of course not. It’s a sideways movement or even a small step down.”
The GM is certainly right about the Blazers. If LaVine were to sign with Portland, he would be number two for Damian Lillard, marking a step down from his current role with the Bulls.
Another source told Deveney that Klutch Sports was to blame for the LaVine rumors.
“A lot of that comes from the agents who not only want to get him paid but want to raise his profile at the same time,” a league source told Heavy.com. “This is her MO. The more dramatic it is, the better. Nobody talked about Zach. Now they are all. Mission accomplished.”
The Bulls have a little over a month to grapple with rumors about LaVine before the free reign begins in early January. Some have speculated that LaVine became frustrated last season after becoming the second option to DeMar DeRozan.
However, LaVine helped recruit DeRozan to the Bulls, and part of the reason he became the second option was because of his injured knee. LaVine underwent successful knee surgery on Tuesday and is expected to make a full recovery.
This is good news for LaVine and any team that signs him. With LaVine expected to be able to make a full recovery, that means he’ll likely be able to command a maximum contract from the Bulls.
For their part, the Bulls have never given any indication that they would not be willing to give LaVine the maximum. Ultimately, though, only time will tell if LaVine will re-sign with the Bulls or if he’ll play elsewhere next season.